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Russian War

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I’ve been thinking for a while now regarding the potential for Russia to invade Ukraine. If the claim that Russia intend to do this are true, then this is of serious concern. But, I have my doubts.

I finally decided to write about this after listening to a clip from the podcast of the Lotus Eaters:

This is a quick discussion on my thoughts regarding the topic.

Previous Comments

For my Christmas predictions I wrote:

  • Russia tensions - The EU and Russia have been in tensions recently, but I believe this is just Putin positioning and taking advantage (which from his perspective, he should do). In this case I believe that it makes sense tensions will decrease as Russia’s bargaining position decreases. The only future issues I see is a Russia and China collaboration.

I still stand by the point that Putin is just taking advantage of the current political environment. I still believe the most effective thing the EU can do is to remove Putin’s negotiating power on energy. The China-Russia alliance is still a concern, but this will be further into the future and is not something that can be actioned on now.

Germany were outright foolish to give up their energy security by shutting down their nuclear power stations, in the middle of an energy supply crisis. As a result, the EU is highly dependant on Russia to meet their energy needs, and Putin is making use of this for political leverage. If I were Putin, I might even be doing the exact same thing. The problem is, of course, that this may end up turning into something else rather than some power grab…

War is Coming!

Recently, a CNN reporter claimed 1:

“He [Biden] warned the Ukrainian leader that the capital, Kiev, this city here, could be sacked, that’s the word he used,” CNN’s Matthew Chance reported from Ukraine.

There is generally this idea that a threat from Russia is absolutely imminent and that we should all be hiding down in the bunkers, ready for an attack.

Preserve Democracy!

The US and UK claim that they are coming to the aid of Ukraine in order to preserve democracy. Where were they when Hong Kong lost their democratic freedoms to the CCP? Where were they when Myanmar lost their democratic freedoms to a military coup? Where were they in countless other losses of democracy? Where was this great love of freedom and democracy when they were enacting draconian lockdown measures, whilst Boris was busy partying?

I call bullshit.

For the US Democrats who are currently in power, the Russians live rent free in their politician’s heads, due to the historic Cold War and the “red scare”. Hilary Clinton for example previously claimed that Trump was in Russia’s pocket, it later turned out that the Steele dossier itself was likely partially written by Russia.

Even Biden’s own son has ties to Ukraine, after the “big mangot him and job on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Hunter Biden has zero knowledge of the energy industry and was very clearly put in this position as a result of his father’s status in US politics, yet the GOP found no wrong doing. Surprise. Perhaps Biden looks to protect his energy investments in Ukraine?

For the UK, with Boris barely clinging to power by the skin of his teeth due to ‘partygate’, a scandal where he held a party during the height of lockdowns. A stand-off with Russia is a highly convenient and welcomed distraction as four of his senior aides have quit their roles as a result of the Sue Gray report. It hasn’t even been a year since his previous scandal, where private lobbyists paid to have £200k in renovations/upgrades done to his personal home.

There are certainly grounds to believe there are other motivations in play here.

Troops on Border

Just a few days ago The New York Times reports on Russian troops on the Ukrainian border sitting some 140 miles down the road. According to the New York Post it could be ask many as 120k. Moving thousands of soldiers 140 miles down the road is actually no easy task. To list just a few considerations:

And these are just some of the issues with trying to stage an invasion. It’s not simple at all.

Of course, it could just be a politically motivated military exercise.

Military exercises are actually common. In 2021, Ukraine and NATO allies had 6k troops run drills in Ukraine. This happens every year - doing such drills is just good military preparation. We cannot discount the possibility that Russia do the same.

One point that critics have raised is that this looks nothing like Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea. To start with, they need to prepare the Russian public - many people have relatives who live in both Russia and Ukraine. Apparently there has been some form of warning though with a “false flag” event suspected:

Let’s watch that space closely.

UK Response

I see news reports that the UK’s RAF had to scramble jets in response to Russian aircraft entering their airspace. Apparently this is in response to the Russia-Ukraine situation and the UK’s interference in it.

Let me let you into a little secret: Russia always sends aircraft to the UK. They did it in 2021, 2019, 2018 and many other years. I personally remember being told by old RAF personnel that they have done it almost every year - it was an old ongoing joke between them.

It’s genuinely irresponsible reporting to suggest this is anything but normal. I would be worried if Russia didn’t send some random aircraft to test the UK’s rapid response.

Russia’s Military Capability

Russia is not nearly as capable as the US or NATO likes to believe it is. In 2015 Russia attempted to launch many cruise missiles over Iranian territory and they failed mid-flight, hitting Iranian civilian locations. Some at the time speculated they just wanted to use up old hardware, but I’m not entirely convinced. The Russian economy has generally not been all so great ever since the USSR collapse, with the rest of the world continuing to treat them as a hostile threat. As a result, jobs are not well paid, the government doesn’t raise many taxes and therefore doesn’t have much to spend on their military.

In terms of advanced weaponry, such as hypersonic missiles, Russia are scrambling to keep up. Both the US and China have had such weaponry for years now.

Final Thoughts

I believe Putin is posturing and using the fear of the threat he poses to position himself politically, with his political enemies in a weakened state (due to COVID, energy crisis, etc). This is a high-stakes game though, as he’s bluffing for sure. The troops are too far out from Ukraine, the military are under-funded and their equipment is dangerously aged. Putin cannot invade Ukraine in this current state.

The most dangerous thing to watch out for is a pact between China and Russia. China wants to see the US and NATO economically sink, but not get their own hands dirty. China will happily give Putin all the weapons he asks for at a discount if it means they can better position themselves to clean-up after the mess. I don’t think Putin is a foolish man though, as such a deal would also not work out well for Russia either in the long-term. In the coming days I would image to see China gently try and nudge things along from the background, but I doubt it will be successful.

Watch this space though!

  1. Sorry for the source, but most reporting on this has now been scrubbed from the internet.↩︎